6 Tough Interview Questions (and Answers)

6 Tough Interview Questions (and Answers)

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Whether by conscious effort or not, a job interview is seemingly designed to intimidate. It allows the interviewer to get a sense of a candidate’s performance under pressure; to see how they might handle the more challenging aspects of a potential position.

Silicon Valley has developed a reputation as the pinnacle of job interview adversity. The likes of Google, Apple and Microsoft have created the most desirable workplaces on the planet, but getting yourself an employee pass isn’t as simple as having a snappy answer to ‘what do you see as your main weakness?’ (Never answer perfectionism, by the way).

These titans of digital industry will instead have you squirming in your seat with a range of brain-stretchers and teasers. Here are a few of the best (or worst) questions, and the sort of answers that may help you get a call back.

[Google] What is the weight of the Empire State Building?


ANSWER: This is not a trick question; rather it’s one that tests your estimating skills. The interviewer wants to see your process, considering the amount of floors, the dimensions of those floors, and an approximation on weight. The actual answer is around 750,000 tonnes.

[Google] How much should you charge to wash all the windows in New York?


ANSWER: Often a follow-up to the Empire State Building question, this needs to be attacked totally differently. The best answer? Something along the lines of $500 per week or $5 per window.

[Microsoft] A right angled triangle has a hypotenuse of 10 and a height of 6. What is the triangle’s area?


ANSWER: Simple geometry, right? The formula to find the area of the triangle is 0.5 x hypotenuse x height, making it 0.5 x 10 x 6 = 30. But in reality, such a triangle cannot exist. If a right angled triangle has a hypotenuse of 10, its maximum height is 5.

[Apple] What’s the most creative way you can break a clock?


ANSWER: Apple pride themselves on doing things a little differently, and this question represents that ethos perfectly. They’re in search of understanding, and then creativity. Firstly, ask about the clock – is it analogue, digital, nuclear, hydraulic, small, large, invisible, a sun dial? Once you have the info, it’s up to you to create a way to destroy it.

[Google] How many times do a clock’s hands overlap in one day?


Another question designed to test your problem solving skills, while your mind might instantly jump to 24, the actual answer is 22. A clock’s hands overlap at 1:05am, 2:11am, 3:16am, 4:22am and so forth, 11 times around the clock face, and 22 times in a day.

[Tesla] Explain a dynamometer to an 8-year-old child in 3 sentences


ANSWER: The idea behind this question is to see if you’re able to condense technical, complicated information down into a simple and understandable form. A good answer might be something like ‘A dynamometer is a machine that can measure how much power something has. You can use it to measure how quickly a car can go, or how much a tractor can pull. Now, would you like some juice?’

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